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Vienna's Naschmarkt: 500 years of food

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TravelGumbo has featured many markets, but few as old or as large as Vienna's fabled Naschmarkt, with a history going back to the 16th century, and just under a mile long and two to three aisles wide of stands, stalls, restaurants and small bars just outside the city's historic center. You'll never starve there!

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My first adult visit to the Naschmarkt was in 1988; as a New Yorker, I looked around at all the food, and immediately assumed its name was the origin of our "nosh"—a little bite of something. This year, on my third, I found I was wrong...the Naschmarkt's name is from Asch, the wood used for milk containers; it was originally a milk market.

 Naschmarkt about 1900 (upper) and in early 1800s (lower)

 

Today, though, it's a true everything market, with meats, cheeses, baked goods, candy, grains and nuts, prepared foods, international foods, and even kitchen equipment and traditional clothing. On weekends, when many of the stalls are closed, there's an add-on flea market nearby.

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Starting in the 1790s, and continuing for a hundred years or more, all produce arriving in Vienna by road was required to go to the Naschmarkt; anything arriving by water on the Danube went to another market on the river. That made the Naschmarkt an even move varied and even more important market for Vienna.

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Over the time of my three visits at about 15-year intervals, we've seen increasing numbers of small restaurants, some of them very "chi-chi" and more of an emphasis on the more "exotic" ingredients that might not be in your neighborhood store, and less of an emphasis on the general market items that might be bought closer to home.

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Surprisingly, though, it's not become a place for late-night eating or shopping; it closes by 6:30 pm daily, although a few restaurants stay open later. And it's not an early morning place, either: 9 am is the opening hour. Just below, some snack-worthy boreki, meats and vegetables, mostly peppers, stuffed with almost anything. Some of them were features of our lunch.

 

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But what a variety of foods and sights and people! And, aside from the restaurants, numbers of the stands that sell prepared food have a few stools at a counter, and you can make a very nice lunch of it. We were with New York friends for the day, and that's just what we did, with small plates of many things, and a glass of wine.

 

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As usual, perhaps too many pictures—but it's hard for me to say no to some of them, but you can skip ahead if you'd like!

 

  

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Obviously, as seen below, I was not the only one photographing the market...

 

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Fruit drinks of nearly every sort and combination...next door to the fattest white asparagus.

 

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Not a big seafood market, but smoked salmon and other treats were available...

 

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More sweet treats and flavors...

 

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...including more flavors of Lokum (Turkish Delight) than we found even in Istanbul

 

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Appearances to the contrary, the next one isn't food at all, just brightly decorated plates and bowls to eat it from...and then the store full of teapots and cups, and even the chance at "traditional dress."

 

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A fruit with a bad reputation (some airlines won't allow it aboard) has a distinctive name in German: "Stinky Fruit." In English we're a little kinder to it, calling it Durian and letting you find out for yourself. This one didn't smell so bad...but it had been open for a while.

 

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Comments (2)

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A wonderful display of fruit and vegetables Paul.

No - never too many photos. I could be there myself !

Really enjoyed that excursion into epicurean delights.

Not so sure about some of those prices, but they certainly looked fresh as could be.

I'm just going back for another look - I'm sure I could smell the Pataks Curry !

The Stinkefrucht "Dorien" comes from  Singapore as your photo says. But if you take it on public transport there - you will be pushed off the bus !.  You may see it hanging out the window of cars at arms length in a carrier bag.

Last edited by GarryRF

It is a great market.  I've only visited it once, and it's enormous and hard to get your head around, although there is a fair bit of repetition among the stalls.

 

There are several excellent restaurants at the market.  I've forgotten the name of the place, but there was a southeastern Asian restaurant that we ate at which provided us with one of the best meals we ate in Vienna, a city known for its great food.  One of the Austrians at a table beside us began a conversation and told us he travels by train 50 km just to eat at that restaurant.  Now that's the kind of loyalty every businessman is jealous of.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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